Moving to Morocco, Part 3: Arrival
The alarm was an unwelcome intruder into my dreamless sleep. I did somehow manage to sleep, cockroach carcasses be damned! The bedroom was too hot, so I parked myself on the couch, opened the sliding glass door, and fell asleep to the sound of crashing waves. (This is the part where you get out your tiniest violin in the world and make your best “poor baby” face at me.)
My new school did not mess around with getting us newbs moving, so we had orientation at the crack of 10, which to my body was still 4 am. The bars separating me from my terrace were still stubbornly fused in place, so I breathed in the salty air, shook off my travel aura, and turned to face the day. Or at least, the shower.
“Do you have any hair gel?” These were the first words spoken to me by my downstairs neighbor. Up to that point, I wasn’t even sure if I had a downstairs neighbor. Turned out I had not one, but two. “Uhhh, no,” I said to him, bewildered. Behind him emerged a woman whose energy and voice seemed to defy all the laws of physics when compared to her small, slight body. “Yeah, they lost our luggage, we’ve got nothing but the clothes on our backs. This is insane,” she said as she put on shoes, tousled her hair, and grabbed her bag. I liked these two immediately. Something about them told me that they were My People.
Before I left the U.S., my husband said to me, “You are going to Morocco and you are going to find Your People.” What I was doing—leaving my family, my home, everything familiar—was not normal. It was not something most normal people (including, some days, me) understood. But it was something I knew I had to do. And it was something that My People would understand implicitly. It was something they would champion. It was something they would do. Were doing. I texted him: I think I found My People.
Don’t ask me to explain how, because I’m not sure I fully comprehend it myself, but my husband and I reconciled. We talked, we shared, we talked, and we talked some more. We created what we call “Marriage 2.0”. Everyone’s first question when this happened was, “Are you still going to Morocco?” For my husband and me, that was never a question. It would be like asking, “Are you still going to breathe?” He understood deeply how important this was for me, and for Marriage 2.0. And he knew I needed to find My People.
The day was a blur: meeting more of My People, seeing my new school, wrapping my mind around the Reality of it all. Pinch me. Finally, the Director announced that because of the heat wave, we would be making a trip to the local Marjane (Morocco’s Target) to buy fans. Everyone in the room jumped up and down like kindergarteners. In their minds, at least. I’ve never been more excited to buy household items, especially the one I most coveted: a broom!
That evening, my broom and I made quick work of the dead bodies in my apartment, and my fan ensured that I could sleep in a proper bed. Oh, and a lovely, lovely man from the school came and got those bars open. Freedom! I almost hugged him. Instead, I said many shoukrans (“thank you” in Arabic) as he flexed his biceps.
Standing out on the terrace that evening, I knew there were so many adventures ahead of me. I had yet to meet the plant seller and his wine-drinking delivery men; I hadn’t yet smelled the tannery in Fes or drank mint tea with the Berber rug seller in Chefchaouen or hiked in the Atlas. I knew nothing of these things I was about to experience. All I knew, in that moment, was that I had Arrived.